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Funding for community health centers at risk

HOUSTON - The funding for Texas Community Health Centers is at risk, and for nearly 200,000 Texans, it could be a life or death situation.

"Worst case scenario is that we're going to have to cut services, we're going to have to cut positions. We're not going to be able to meet the needs of the people, and that means emergency rooms are going to get overcrowded again, you're going to have ambulances diverted all over the city and you're going to have people literally dying because they can't get the healthcare they need,” said CEO of Pasadena Health Center, John Sweitzer.

Houston is home to the largest medical center in the world, but the location isn’t convenient to everyone in the Greater Houston area.

”Some people don't have access to go to the medical center. These community health centers serve a purpose,” Houston City Councilman Jerry Davis said.

Health centers like Hope Clinic serve patients in medically underserved communities, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

The funding for these health centers is usually reauthorized in five-year increments, but with a government so divided it can barely fund itself, these clinics have been approaching a cliff.

A two-year reauthorization has made its way into the most recent continuing resolution the House is set to vote on for Thursday.  It would then have to pass the Senate.

Funding these clinics has been mostly uncontroversial, but that's not the case for everything else in the resolution.

”We still need to put a lot of pressure in calling our congressmen, urging them to take the health of our community seriously and not to use it as a political token to negotiate," said Executive Director of Hope Clinic, Andrea Caracostis.

“It's about taking care of people.  We don't card anybody and ask them if they're a Republican or a Democrat. All we want to know is, do they need help?” Sweitzer explained.